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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Gouley

Uh-Oh! When Dogs Ingest Foreign Objects

Uh-Oh! When Dogs Ingest Foreign Objects

Woe to those careless doggy owners who leave temptation – most famously socks – within easy gulping reach of their curious canine companions.

Notorious for eating items they shouldn’t, dogs can cheerfully chew and swallow almost anything.

If your precocious pup did indeed swallow a sock and he’s a large dog, he may simply vomit it back up – almost immediately or within a day or two. If he doesn’t, the sock may pass neatly through his intestines and eventually be eliminated. Because this could take several days, you must carefully check his stool for that sock every time he moves his bowels, and paws crossed, find it sooner rather than later! But if you don’t find it or if your dog seems out of sorts, promptly take him to the vet.

If, on the other hand your dog is small, rather than wait, one option is to bring him directly to your vet to have the sock removed from his stomach by using an endoscope. This is a long, thin tube with a miniature light and camera at the end that goes down your dog’s throat and into his stomach. The missing sock is then extracted with a pair of specially designed forceps.

Unfortunately, in some cases, that errant sock might become lodged in your dog’s stomach. According to experts, when the stomach empties out, food is the first to be eliminated while indigestible items are the last. A sock or any other foreign object can, therefore, remain in a dog’s stomach and cause problems. Why? Just because he swallowed it doesn’t mean he can throw it up or eliminate it, and if it’s too large to enter his intestinal tract, it literally bounces around, resulting in extreme discomfort.

Since many ingested objects are difficult to see on x-rays, and since dogs often swallow things without their owners even realizing it, vets will usually investigate further by using that same endoscopic procedure. How often has a vet, when searching for bowel disease or a chronic inflammation, been surprised to find that the culprit is someone’s underwear (be wary of that elastic band) or a tennis ball instead!

The most unpleasant and potentially life-threatening result of your dog’s swallowing a foreign object is an intestinal obstruction -- where the item lodges somewhere in his intestines and causes a blockage that requires surgery to remove it. What’s difficult about an intestinal obstruction, however, is that you might not realize your dog has one if you didn’t actually see him swallowing something that object.

What, then, are the classic signs of an obstruction? If your dog keeps vomiting and vomiting and he’s neither eating nor drinking. If your dog never vomits, then he suddenly starts vomiting several times a week. Consider both scenarios to be medical emergencies.

And, in conclusion, should you witness your dog swallow a battery, a sharp or a very large object, visit the vet immediately.


Article by Nomi Berger. Nomi is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and has been writing as a volunteer for animal rescue groups in Canada and the U.S.A. since 2013.

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